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October 14, 2003

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Kigoma rose to prominence with the Central Line rail terminus, the only link to the Indian Ocean. Now it's Tanzania's most important port on the lake. In recent years with upheavals in Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda, it's become a major refugee center and base for international aid organizations.
Kigoma's main street. See this and you've basically seen Kigoma.
Refugee boat from the Congo. For its post independence history, Tanzania has distinguished itself for its willingness to take in large numbers of refugees. Tanzania's first president, Julius Nyerere, accepted refugees as a means of supporting regional liberation movemements and as an act of solidarity with oppressed Africans. He called this the ujamaa philosophy. The refugees are given a dignified existence, offered land, housing , and citizenship. About half a million refugees from Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda flooded the Kigoma region, changing the political demographics, and forcing Tanzania to tighten its borders. The refugees have converted their temporary camps into huge villages.
We ride a lake taxi, almost indistinguishable from a refugee boat because it is loaded bow to stern with passengers. The lake taxi carries us 20 kilometers along the coast to Gombe National Park.